Q: A friend of mine who works at the school let it slip that my daughter's teacher views me as high maintenance because of my weekly calls to check in about her type 1 diabetes. She was diagnosed at the end of the last school year, so why wouldn't I be concerned? I'm now shying away from contact just so that I'm not seen as a pain, but it's making me anxious. Should I address this with the teacher? What's an appropriate amount of parent-teacher contact?
A: Because most kids spend a good part of their lives at school, teachers and school nurses are very much a part of their care team (as is any adult in a caregiving position). Wanting to stay in touch with your daughter's teacher and school about her progress is not unusual -- in fact, most diabetes educators encourage regular school-parent contact no matter what grade a child is in.
As for being seen as high maintenance, understand that many, if not most, parents of children with type 1 experience some level of anxiety or worry about their child's blood sugar management at school. This is especially true when the diagnosis is recent, or the first time a school nurse or teacher will be performing some of the tasks involved with daily management.
It could be that your child's teacher was having a bad day and her words were simply thoughtless -- or there could be something else afoot. Maybe the time when you call is her only break on that particular day or calling right at the end of the school day conflicts with her schedule. To clear the air, make an appointment to talk in person. Be upfront in letting the teacher know that diabetes still feels very new for your family, and it may be that you need to stay in a little closer contact than other parents of students with type 1 that the teacher has possibly worked with before.
Together you can decide on the frequency and type of communication that works well for everyone. Is there a particular day that is more convenient for a quick 10-minute call? Perhaps weekly emails would work better, and phone calls can be reserved for urgent situations? As you negotiate this, just know that it's completely reasonable to communicate in some form on a weekly basis, even if it's just to hear that your daughter is doing absolutely fine. As the school year progresses and your comfort level rises, you can always revise this communication plan, with the goal still being to keep lines of communication open.
--Jennifer Dunford, R.N., C.D.E., is a certified diabetes educator and type 1 diabetes management team member at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.
How Other Parents Deal
"When my son went back to school after his diagnosis, his teacher came up with a checklist form that she sent home every day. It had boxes for things like 'Had a morning snack,' 'Checked my blood sugar,' 'Went to the nurse.' It was very reassuring -- and very easy for the teacher to fill out!"
--Jennifer, mom of Evan
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.